We're bringing car advertising back to the SaabBlog!
The SaabBlog has been ad-free for years. No pop-ups, no intrusive Google ads to bother you. Only ads about Saab and (theoretically) also Citroën. They are discreet, not disturbing, and it should stay that way in the future. Despite it! Something will change! We're bringing car advertising back to the SaabBlog.
In fact, this change does not mean that Google and other providers will move in again. The reading experience is not at risk, and financing via advertisements is not an issue. We have a completely different idea. When we write about car advertising, the team is primarily concerned with earlier times.
We're talking about the time when there were still commercial artists who worked at the drawing table with ruler, pen and ink. Artists who skilfully set lines, who could say a lot with little. The days of yore are exciting because they were different, and the advertising claims can be pretty special from today's perspective. However, it could also be the case that the advertising from back then holds a mirror up to us and we draw completely unexpected conclusions.
A short excursion into German media history
The commercial artist, the genius at the drawing board, successfully made it onto German television decades ago. Peter Weck, the great Austrian actor, played the graphic artist Werner Schuhmann in the ZDF ratings hit. The series "I am marrying a family” is set in West Berlin, Weck brings a family with adolescent children into his bourgeois-creative ambience, which was a real topic in 1983 at the start of the series.
Perhaps also because, according to the self-image of the time, freelance graphic designers driving Porsches and family life were mutually exclusive.
While the patchwork family (the term had not yet been invented at the time) experienced all sorts of ups and downs, Schuhmann was busy in the basement with the ups and downs of advertising graphics life. Only the way it was designed back then speaks for the series today. Because there is no computer, no 3D graphics, no tools.
Just a man and his drawing pen.
That's fascinating, the rest of the plot is more questionable than entertaining, even if the series was a hit until 1986 and became a cult.
Car advertising from days gone by
The idea of reviving the ad designer's bygone days came to the blog office with boxes of historic car magazines. On first flipping through, we liked the displays, some of which are black and white and not in color. There were graphics to be discovered that were not created on the computer but on the drawing board. Sparing lines and conveying simple but accurate advertising messages, the old advertising is just great.
Since then we have been digitizing an old magazine that is maybe 50 or 60 years old, there are also younger ones and some of the pages have already yellowed. Of course, we're talking about two car brands. Saab and Citroën.
Saab - small and insignificant
At Saab we are immersed in a world that partly predates the opening of the first Saab Germany branch on Berner Strasse in Frankfurt am Main. Saab was small and insignificant. The Swedish brand fought its way up through the two-stroke models, which were small cars, into the mid-size segment with the Saab 99. The higher positioning took courage and, well, some cheek. Because Saab had a problem. The cars were good – but far too expensive.
This had to be successfully compensated.
Citroën - avant-garde with humor
The situation at Citroën was different. The brand was avant-garde – on the one hand. On the other hand, beyond the DS and ID, small cars and middle classes were sold against the strong German competition. In contrast to Saab, the double-angle brand has always mastered the art of producing cheaply and also offering affordable. Nevertheless, humor and the art of making the competitor look boring were also needed here.
Humor, this word that has almost been lost in our serious, sometimes far too tight-lipped world, apparently played an important role 40, 50 or 60 years ago. It wasn't just about looking at the market competitor from a humorous angle, but also looking at your own brand with wit.
It seems that the industry has lost the wink it used to have when striving for efficiency. That's unfortunate, but we're bringing it back, in no particular order regularly on the SaabBlog.
Of course, we also show the advertising in color, not just the old black and white ads. Whatever comes in front of the scanner and has Saab or Citroën (or something notable automobile) as its content is of interest.
14 thoughts on "We're bringing car advertising back to the SaabBlog!"
And yes, historical advertisements certainly invite us to self-reflection. Works for me right here and now ;-) when I see the Opel ad like this...
130 km/h and 22 seconds from 0 to 100 as an advertising promise in 1965?
It immediately shifts my perspective. Not only on current cars, but even on classic cars. According to Wikipedia, mine (1970) is 8,7 to 100 and max. 193 km/h fast. When I had the “new” one and told my best friend (who also owns a vintage car) the mileage, he looked at me completely helplessly and asked if that was important?
I understood him today. Would like to tell him about the Saabblog, his latest initiative and my latest knowledge around the campfire. He would like it. Sadly passed away a few years ago. But his vintage car (1 year older) is still driving today. Slow and steady wins the race. And what is slow anyway? Compared to the Kadett, his Gothenburger of the same vintage with 68 hp is a rocket...
But as he asked, "Does that matter?"
I'm looking forward to the return to the essentials, which will take place here in terms of form and content in old and charming advertisements, which is already showing today. Just get from A to B well and as safely as possible. Nothing more. That's what it was all about...
Today that is tantamount to a confrontation with our claims.
The display for the safety glass also fits in perfectly. Very charming, all that. Have trusted Tom & Team for many years, so to speak, all the best. Still, I'm totally surprised. Where does all this 24/7 come from?
It's just phenomenal, isn't it?
Well commented! I couldn't believe it when I read the Opel ad. Was that once the reality on our streets? Really now? The cadet is so strange, he's really cool again.
Maybe not just Saab and Citroën, dear blog team. Gladly dare more foreign brands, but please only in relation to advertising 😉
Yes, please include other brands and/or charming advertising from suppliers and manufacturers of accessories and equipment. Just like today...
This helps to understand the zeitgeist and historical Saab.
Yes, Volvaab is right about that – but if you try to go back in time a bit, the Kadett's stats must have been quite good. The normal driver or car buyer and the normal car that you could afford played in a completely different, much lower league than what everyone takes for granted today - and, hand on heart, we Saab friends love of course anyway the speed. But the values of the 1970 Volvo from Volvaab were certainly the absolute exception and probably corresponded to those of the S-Class, for example, which very, very few people could and wanted to afford. For comparison: My first (very reliable and much loved) car was a 1982 Polo (which I inherited from my mother a few years later when she won a Ford Sierra at Edeka and then drove it too, great thing). At that time, about 20 years after the Kadett, he was driving at a top speed of 140 km/h and that was quite enough (everything vibrated at that speed and the little one also drank a lot, so I rarely maxed it out). In 1992, I replaced the Polo with a Golf Turbo diesel (with the fabulous pump-nozzle technology), which I (and fellow students with the same car) found just crazy fast with 75 hp and a top speed of 160 km/h. That was (only) thirty years ago. It wasn't until 2003 that I ventured into other classes and speeds with my first Saab. I'm guessing maybe up until 2000, when the SUV craze hit us, most "normal" cars and their owners were more than happy with well under 100 hp. The family second cars were mostly small cars or at most compact class and not like today pedestrian-hostile giant tanks, with which mum drives her offspring to school, to leisure time stress etc. every day despite public transport. My husband just told me his first car was an ancient Beetle, made about the same year as the Kadett in the advert, but with 6-volt candle-like lighting, 34 hp and a whopping 105 km/h top speed. For non-big earners or car enthusiasts that was quite normal - we've just forgotten all about it now.
Yes, one really tends to forget...
Even Mercedes offered the rather large and heavy 1979 from 1985 hp or 123 hp as the 54 D with at least a good 60 tons until 200 or 1,4.
Your pump injector, on the other hand, was a wolf in the Gulf. And a Saab 96 with only 950 kg and 68 high-revving petrol hp from a V4 may look a bit old-fashioned next to such a Benz, but still and at the same time still like a slimmed-down sports car.
In fact, there was not a single car from Sweden parallel to the 123 that would have undercut the performance of the German premium diesel. You can't dream of it. But it is actually like that. I find it fascinating to rediscover the history of Saab in the context of other classic cars, to sort it out in a new way...
Yes, Saabs have always been something special and, compared to contemporary German products (apart from the only ones in the world, besides Saab, turbo friends from Zuffenhausen), real performance and speed miracles. The only question is: Is this so surprising for us today - or at the time when you could buy the much faster and more innovative cars from Sweden, hardly anyone in Germany knew that? I'm betting on the latter. Even car and speed-affine groups of buyers simply did not have Saab on their screens. I would never have come to Saab either if I hadn't happened to be allowed to drive one with friends. Which leads us to the question: why was that? I'm guessing bad marketing here. If there had been an initiative like that of Bob Sinclair in the USA, things might have gone differently – which brings us back to “would be, would have”. 🙁
I also have a story to tell about the W123: in the mid-80s, my brother graciously let me drive his oh-so-great new 220 D (I mean, with 60 hp) on a tour of Switzerland. On the supposedly flat motorway, which ran parallel to the mountainside over Montreux, I steered into the left lane at about 100 km/h, just as fast as I was used to from my 50 hp Polo (petrol engine). truck to overtake. I pressed the gas pedal - and what happened? Nothing at all! I had to modestly get back into position behind the truck. I haven't forgotten to this day.
That's so right. The 220 D had 60 hp. When the 200 D was "tuned" from 54 to 60 hp, the 220 D was deleted without replacement ...
It would also be interesting to know what exactly was the reason that Saab (and also Volvo) played almost no role in Germany before the 1970s. Both brands have been export-oriented for many years (to North America of all places versus fat and cheap boxes). The Swedes were also very active there in marketing and had plenty of experience when it came to self-portrayal...
The ads for the US market were incredibly pro to aggressive. There you can see (b/w film, available on YouTube), for example, a Volvo Amazone racing in an unbelievably wild chase over dusty tracks (Texas?), while the spokesman is talking about the (driving) performance and economic (and from today's point of view also ecological ) praises virtues of this car. Miles per gallon, for example (of course!) - and then close the commercial with the words, "But the one thing you will love most about your Volvo is, you can drive it like you hate it." What a statement...
Marketing skills, performance, quality or production costs do not seem plausible to me as the reason why the Swedes were unable to gain a foothold on the German market for a long time. There must be other historical reasons for this. I'm betting on different, bilateral customs agreements after WW II between the respective importers and exporters. That is why F, GB and the USA (victorious powers) were able to export cheaply to the young FRG, Sweden also cheaply to the USA (which in turn also to Sweden), but Saab and Volvo just not to Germany, because an economic miracle was supposed to happen there, the domestic industry rise. It's all damn complex. I only know (but for sure) that the Swedes were very, very expensive on the German market for a long time, absolutely not for sale and suddenly surprisingly cheap.
That can only be due to the political framework and a change in the same, otherwise it makes no sense at all. In any case, the relocation of production to Asia was not yet an issue in this exciting phase of Swedish or European automobile construction ...
Great idea, and interesting how car advertising was done almost 100 years ago ... e.g. at Tatra:
I thought: https://blog.consumerguide.com/favorite-car-ads-1934-tatra-77/
Another great idea! I have an extensive Citroen prospectus collection from the years 1968-1980. The jewel in the collection is Sarah Moon's rare SM prospectus. A cream of car advertising!
I'm looking forward to more posts from time documents car brochures.
Creative, creative. Do you have a super great agency that delivers so many new ideas? Or is it Tom?
Thanks very much! It's the team, without it none of this would be possible.
Very great initiative, Tom.
I'm excited and curious
A little more car culture, that sounds good! I'm curious to see what old advertising you dig up!